Ghostbusters (1984)

Movie: Directed by Ivan Reitman.

Inciting Event: Parapsychologists Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler are fired from their university jobs and decide to go into business for themselves as “Ghostbusters.”

Meanwhile, Dana has her first encounter with the evil Zuul in her refrigerator.

First Plot Point: Dana hires them to investigate Zuul. Venkman is immediately interested in her, and when she rebuffs him, he determines to “prove” himself to her—which provides a nice intersection of all the plotlines kicking off here at the First Plot Point.

First Pinch Point: EPA agent Walter Peck arrives to investigate the team’s safety measures. He doesn’t do much at this point, but he situates himself as an antagonistic threat. Meanwhile, the team discusses the problematic “Twinkie-sized” amount of paranormal activity they’ve been encountering.

In itself, this isn’t a big scene. But it’s all about foreshadowing what is to come.

Midpoint: On the night when Venkman is supposed to have a date with Dana, her apartment building is attacked by Zuul’s monsters and Dana herself is possessed by Zuul’s Gatekeeper. This shifts the story from reaction to Dana’s stories to full-on action in pursuit of Zuul.

Second Pinch Point: EPA agent Walter Peck arrives once more, this time shutting off the team’s power grid and releasing all the ghosts they’d previously caught—which creates havoc throughout NYC.

Third Plot Point: As earthquakes and other disasters shake the city, the team enter Dana’s building to vanquish the ghosts.

Climax: Zuul finally arrives, and the team must battle her full might. Note how the Climax funnels the conflict down into a final definitive confrontation with the main antagonistic force.

Climactic Moment: The team perform the dangerous trick of crossing their laser beams, blow up Zuul, and destroy the other dimension—definitively ending the conflict.

Resolution: Dana revives, and she and Venkman are reunited. The team are heroes.

Notes: Not much to comment on here. This is a simple story with a simple structure that hits all its beats without fanfare or complexity.

Sign Up Today

hwba sidebar pic

Sign up to receive K.M. Weiland’s e-letter and receive her free e-book Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.